It may be cynical, but committing fouls in non-dangerous areas has proven to be an effective tactic employed by teams to prevent the opposition from gaining an advantage. Committing a foul in a dangerous area is generally something that teams look to avoid.
The SportsMatrix analytics team looked back over the current Premier League season to see which teams were guilty of committing most fouls in dangerous areas (Table 1) and more controversially which teams committed most fouls in dangerous areas, including offences overlooked, ignored or missed by the referee (Table 2).
A foul in a dangerous area is defined as one committed in the final third of the field, which presented some form of threat on goal.
Taking the season as a whole, Premier League teams on average committed per game 3.21 fouls in dangerous areas. Perhaps it’s no surprise that the team averaging most fouls in dangerous areas was Aston Villa (4.03), whilst the team to give away fewest fouls in dangerous areas was Everton (1.97).
Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur averaged most fouls per game with all three averaging just under four fouls per game in dangerous areas. However Liverpool, Chelsea and Southampton whilst all guilty of committing a similar number of fouls; were ranked close to the bottom of the league in the number of fouls given away in dangerous areas.
Whilst Tottenham are guilty of committing the third highest number of fouls per game and the 5th highest number of fouls per game in dangerous areas (3.61); when looking at the ‘correct’ number of fouls committed in dangerous areas which should have been awarded against them, then they are ranked only 12th worst.
Meanwhile Leicester City, still holding their nerve and well on course to winning the Premier League are ranked 12th in the league for the number of fouls committed and ninth for the number of fouls committed in dangerous areas (3.38 fouls per game). But when examining their games in more detail, Leicester City actually committed 5.29 fouls per game in dangerous areas, which is more fouls in dangerous areas than any other Premier League team.
It seems that teams at the top of the table benefit from decisions going their way; but regardless of that, with a defence that has conceded only six goals in their last 13 league games, Leicester City will be worthy Premier League champions.